WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said this week it has elected Bill Martin, a senior vice president of Farmers Insurance, and Joan Claybrook, president emeritus of Public Citizen, as co-chairs of its board of directors. 

The election took place at the safety group's board meeting in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 3. 

Martin and Claybrook will serve as insurance co-chair and consumer co-chair, respectively, through 2010. 

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, also known simply as Advocates, was formed in 1989 by leading insurance and consumer groups as well as safety and medical organizations. The group lobbies for laws and policies that promote highway safety.   

"Advocates is continually uncovering legislative areas where consumer safety advocates and private sector insurer interests agree," Martin said. "It is great to have a vehicle to communicate mutual support and push government action to support the consensus." 

Consumer representation on the Advocates board includes the American College of Emergency Physicians, American Public Health Association, Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Emergency Nurses Association, Kids And Cars, Trauma Foundation, and Whirlwind Wheelchair International. 

Additional consumer representatives are Joan Claybrook, who was Advocates' first consumer co-chair in 1989, and R. David Pittle, past senior vice president for technical policy at Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports

Among the many state and national highway safety initiatives being spearheaded by Advocates are three federal proposals:

  • The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act (H.R. 1895), which aims to ensure that every teen in every state is covered by a comprehensive Graduated Drivers Licensing law (www.saferoads4teens.org).
  • The Motor Carrier Enhanced Safety Act (S.554), which aims to correct vehicle safety design flaws in motor coach buses.
  • A petition instructing the U.S. Department of Transportation to initiate a rulemaking to curb distracted driving by operators of commercial motor vehicles, such as tractor trailers, motor coach buses and large vans. 

Additionally, Advocates plans to release its "2010 Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws" on Jan. 11 to highlight state-by-state gaps in traffic safety laws.